It's That Time of Year Again

December 19, 2023

Carraig na bhFear AC – A Year In Review!

Last weekend our Racewalkers brought the years competition to a successful close by competing in the World Race Walking Tour U18 5k race in Raheny. Aoife Martin, Anna Mullins and Robyn Maher finishing in very impressive 4 th , 13 th and 14 th places respectively. No better time than now to reflect on another successful year for Carraig na bhFear AC.

A major undertaking this year was a warm-weather training camp. Over sixty members of Carraig na bhfear AC took to the skies over the Easter weekend to converge on Nerja on the Southern Coast of Spain for our long-awaited warm-weather training camp. 

The inaugural trip was to Malta in 2017 but Covid interrupted the laying of any further plans until this year. The trip surpassed all expectations, the weather playing its part with constant sunshine and temperatures in the mid-twenties. The recently resurfaced track in Nerja contained all the necessary infrastructure to support a technical track and field camp. The mornings were spent with the coaches’ putting athletes through their paces in warm-up drills, followed by a detailed training program. The track was buzzing with diverse groups from Latvia, Sweden, The Netherlands, and neighboring countries and gave coaches and athletes an insight into other approaches to training. The all-important social element was also present with walking, trail-running, cycling, Kayaking and beach volleyball added in for the die-hards who wanted to maximize the opportunity to be active as well as an opportunity to relax in the various pools in the locality. Our juveniles, juniors and adults all mixing was fantastic to see.

A change to our Juvenile Underage coaching structure has reaped instant rewards. Paul Noonan and Yvonne O’Leary took over the U9 to U11 group with a fresh enthusiasm and the kids are loving training and competition. This freed up Martin Hurley to focus on his specialist area of racewalking. There was an immediate impact as Aoife Martin, Anna Mullins and Robyn Maher all won medals at National level despite intense competition. The U13 to U15 group are coached by Willie Walsh and Dave O’Riordan, as you would expect hard work is mandatory, but we have the foundations of good teams that are well up to the mark in competitions. Rhona Lynch continues to put the U16-U17, Junior and adult groups through their paces. Too many medals to mention but particular highlights on an individual basis were Lucy Lynch who progressed steadily through each race to claim a Silver medal in the U17 National 400m. Also, Aidan Maher had a breakthrough year culminating in winning the Intermediate schools Steeplechase. On a team level, the highlight was our Junior U20 Boys team winning their 3rd consecutive County Cross-Country title. Many of the Junior athletes turned their hand to coaching to help run our 2nd Athletics Ireland Summer camp. Sold out in advance, the camp was almost universally described as the ’Best Summer Camp Ever’! 

Probably the most satisfying aspect to the year was the progression of our Junior athletes, U23 and Senior. The year got off to a promising start with our women’s team participating in the Indoor National Leagues, a competition comprising all events over a single day with points awarded for placings. The team qualified for the finals in 5 th place and claimed a 7 th place in the National finals. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and lots of learnings to take away. Success was to follow for many of the athletes in the outdoor National leagues where they played a key part in the East Cork Division women’s team claiming Gold in the county competition. Carraig na bhFear AC also had athletes in the East Cork men’s team who will be determined to build on a 4 th place finish. The highlight of the Track and field season are the National outdoor senior Championships which are televised, and we were delighted to see the club represented with distinction. At U23 level Orla Coffey was 2nd in the Womens 400m despite being relatively new to the event and also made the Senior final, finishing 7 th overall. Blessing Alamu also claimed silver in the U23 women’s discus. A new event at Senior level was the mixed 4 x 400m relay. A young team of Ruaidhri Boyle, Bobby O’Riordan, Orla Coffey and Lucy Lynch were sent with the intention of gaining valuable experience, but a tactical gamble led to a ‘smash and grab’ and an unlikely silver medal! A super achievement and a result that can be built on as we have a wealth of talent at that distance. The best was yet to come however, Ciaran Nugent had put in stellar work over the off-season including training camps where he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Thomas Barr and Olympic and World Champion Karsten Warholm. Ciaran put this to good use by firstly winning the 400m hurdles at the AAI Games and following this up with a Bronze medal in the National finals. A proud day for Ciaran and his family and his club-mates.

We also had a very successful cross-country season having competed in almost every competition on offer from Divisional to National level with impressive turnouts, many medals and lots of positives to build on. There were individual medals at National level for Aidan Maher, Timmy Hawkins and Cathal Walsh with the highlight being the uneven-age competition in Navan where we had no fewer than 9 athletes competing for both club and county with impressive performances all round! 

We will relax and enjoy the brief down-time but also looking forward to next year and the next innovation, our dynamic club Chairman Willie Walsh won’t let us rest on our laurels for long!

Report by Richard Hawkins

Featured Image: The Carraig na bhFear AC team that led the Athletics Summer Camp.

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